With the January blues out of the way, lots of us are looking forward and are already planning our summer trips. With plenty of deals available, the most difficult choice is often where to visit. In the UK, we’re blessed with a whole bunch of outdoor spaces, with most being close to lovely towns and villages.
In this article, we’ve rounded up our top five favourite countryside getaways across England and Wales so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to booking your next holiday! There’s a real variety here, from mountain and hill trails for expert walkers to town walks and short, flat walks for those less experienced. Many of the popular walks have paths or walkways or you can join a group with a guide if you feel you need to.
It’s a destination many of us in East Yorkshire go for day trips to York or the seaside but we don’t always realise just how beautiful it is. The vast area stretches from Staithes to Filey, right across the country to Skipton and crossing the North York Moors. There really is a destination for any family, whether you prefer to be beside the seaside or in the countryside!
On the east coast are the seaside towns of Filey, Scarborough, Robin Hood’s Bay and Staithes. In between the last two is seaside favourite Whitby. With various events throughout the year, including Goth Weekend and the Dracula Experience (Bram Stoker took inspiration for his novel from the town), as well as the usual seafront walks and as much fish and chips as you can eat!
From the coast to the Moors, you’ll need to pack your hiking gear to explore these picturesque landscapes. This national park has routes for all walkers, from experienced to novices, as well as easy access walks for those with mobility problems, a variety of walking groups and guided walks with a local expert.
After all of that walking, why not spend your rest days in one of the many market towns and villages spread right across the area? Helmsley, Pickering and Yorkshire’s food capital, Malton, all incorporate country living, with lots of great independent stores and plenty of cafes to grab a bite. Don’t forget to double check when their market days are because you can pick up some incredible bargains!
Further across are the popular areas of Harrogate, Knaresborough, Ripon and, of course, York. These towns and cities feel like a far cry from the major cities across the country, feeling much more small-town than larger metropolitans. York is the most popular town in the area, yet it still feels cosy and walkable for a day trip. Explore the local culture with plenty of museums and galleries, walk the Castle Walls or explore the local shops and eateries for a break from all that walking!
The Peak District
A firm favourite with Yorkshire folk, the Peak District is home to some of the most breath-taking views in the country. Because it’s nestled in the middle of the country, it tends to be busier than other countryside destinations, making travelling out of season more tempting for many. However, with nearly 2,000 miles of public footpaths, we’re sure you’ll find a quieter spot at any time of the year.
Parts of the Peak District are open and scenic before turning into more secluded areas and towns to break the greenery up. Popular towns of Matlock, Castleton, Grasmere and Bakewell allow you to escape the hustle of city life and enjoy some local cuisine, from Bakewell tarts to Grasmere gingerbread (provided you have a sweet tooth)!
Being the oldest UK national park, the Peaks are a walker’s paradise, with a range of trips for walkers of all skill levels. The Pennine Way is a 251-mile walk from Edale up to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders, usually broken up into smaller segments as part of a walking holiday. Alternatively, the Peak District boundary walk is a 190 mile trip around the entire boundary. With both, you can just walk parts of the walk and incorporate trips to market towns in one trip, rather than a specified walking holiday!
It's a highly accessible area so for those less confident walkers, there are plenty of shorter walks. You can create your own routes following the paths or join a guided walk if you’re unsure of planning your own walk.
The Lake District
Another popular but beautiful location, the Lake District is always a favourite because of its mountains and water. Yet again, there is everything from climbing routes to lakeside strolls so many visitors set up a mixture, throwing in a visit to a nearby town too.
As always, routes in peak season will be busy but still enjoyable as well as town centres. However, that just means having to plan your walks a little more. It’s an area that you can visit every year and still discover something new, as well as travel to your favourite spots too.
The core Cumbiran Mountains/Fells, which includes England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike (3,209ft), are considered best left for experienced walkers and climbers, taking around six hours for each. Harder fell walks include Helvellyn & Striding Edge, Blencathra (Saddleback), Bowfell, Grasmoor, and Old Man of Coniston.
For easier walks, try Runnerdale to Buttermere, the Keswick Lakeside Round, or Sale Fell. We still wouldn’t consider them for first-timers so we recommend building up your stamina with walks closer to home before your trip!
The Lake District is renowned for its quintessential countryside villages and towns, ranging from the larger towns of Keswick, Windermere, Ambleside and Bowness-on-Windermere, to the smaller areas, such as Kendal, Cockermouth, Penrith, Grasmere Ulverstone.
The area is steeped in cultural connections, from William Wordsworth to Beatrix Potter, as well as references on Taylor Swift’s folklore album. With its beautiful scenery and peacefulness, it’s no surprise that poets, writers, musicians and songwriters alike escape to this haven - it inspires creativity!
If you’re looking for an all-round outdoors holiday, North Wales is the perfect destination! With castles, beaches, gorgeous coastal areas and tons of countryside, there’s something for every member of the family.
There are so many activities to do in North Wales, from surfing to wild swimming, and hiking to relaxing. Of course, our top destination is visiting Snowdonia National Park, the perfect place for hikers. If you prefer easier walks, there are plenty of group activities, whether you book onto them or discover them in your own research! You could always take the Snowdon Mountain Railway from April to October, taking you ¾ of the way up Mount Snowdon!
Some of the most popular towns and villages in North Wales include Llandudno, Portmeirion, Porthmadog, Betws-y-Coed as well as the Isle of Anglesey. Each has their own charm, whether it’s a cosy village or a busier coastal town. The amount of attractions across the area include museums, castles, gardens, zoos, beaches and boat trips, ideal for solo travellers, couples and families.
The weather here can be temperamental, especially during the summer, so booking a trip close to indoor activities or close to a larger village or town is ideal for families. Alternatively, you might want to stay somewhere quieter to really escape your usual busy life! You can always make use of the plethora of pubs, B&Bs, and cafes in the local area!
An area that many haven’t visited yet, Northumberland has the very best of what you’d expect from a countryside getaway: scenic walks, coastal areas, beaches, castles, and plenty of small towns and villages to explore.
Most of the walks around the Northumberland National Park, covering Hadrian’s Wall, The Cheviots, Coquetdale and North Tyne & Redesdale, are considered moderate walks, with just a handful of difficult walks. This makes it the perfect getaway for those just dipping their toes into the walking scene, before trying anything too strenuous. If you’re lucky enough to get clear skies, you’ll get to see some of the best landscapes in the country!
If you need a break from hiking, you can always pop to one of the local towns. Blyth, Alnwick, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Hexham, and Morpeth are worth visiting, with plenty of eateries and activities to do whilst you’re there.
All five of the above countryside getaways are full to the brim with walks and activities so make sure you plan your excursions in advance to see as much as you want to! Make sure you pack early too to avoid any last-minute stress and get yourself into the great outdoors to relax and take in the fresh air!